This year’s UXD Healthcare conference – a 2-day program covering the latest developments in user-centered design for healthcare – unfolded the current design challenges that the healthcare sector is facing and spurred a debate on how this sector can apply user-centered-design successfully. Here are four learning points, seen from the perspective of a designer whose mission is to bring accessibility and equality by design to current and future healthcare solutions.
User-centered-transformation is about getting to the core culture of the organisation and changing it; is understanding the capabilities of all stakeholders and enriching them with user-centered experiences. User-centered-transformation is about empowering people to become the greatest advocates for the end-user.
We often hear healthcare organisations saying, “we are applying user-centered-design solutions,” or “we are in the process of digital transformation,” but the truth is that none of them will bring value to the context without going through a real user-centered-transformation.
Not user-centered-design, not digital transformation, but user-centered-transformation.Alex Baker
Elisa de Galdo, from Blue Latitude Health, also supports this topic by listing several challenges that healthcare institutions are facing when implementing new services:
Integrating data across multiple diverse systems
Privacy of data
Digital divides society
Trust in tech
2. From digital healthcare to digital therapeutics
The world is moving from digital health (E.g., telemedicine, wearables that measure your blood pressure) to evidence-based digital therapeutic interventions programs to prevent, manage, or treat medical disorders or diseases. Treatments are already being developed for diseases like Alzheimer, asma, dementia, hypertension, depression, among others. Digital therapeutics also mean that the classical clinical appointment with the GP might change by either reducing the number of times one goes to the GP or by the GP giving you a face-to-face consultation based on the digital data you have registered since the last appointment.
Elisa de Galdo also urges the need of digital therapeutics for a significant reason:
In the 20th century we added 25 years to lifespan, but we have not been able to match this in healthspan. We live longer but not necessarily better.Elisa de Galdo
She continues by saying that the rise of chronic conditions are a major factor and indicator that we don’t have and ideal quality of life. Therefore, we need new models of healthcare delivery that include digital therapeutics.
3. Accessible and equal healthcare solutions and services
The global healthcare system is facing many challenges. For this reason, this conference explores the many wonderful user-centered solutions and services that solve wicked healthcare problems across the globe to bring insight and connect people to build better healthcare systems everywhere. Some highlights of those wicked and global challenges:
Rose Matthews, with a vast experience working in Global health, shares the essential challenges professionals should be aware of when supporting clinicians in low-resource-settings:
Language and comprehension: not only about other idioms but also the over-use of technical jargon in this context.
Culture barriers to transparency: how much are people going to share during interviews if one does not know the nuances of their culture.
Over-research: Today, in some low-resource areas locals give biased and less honest answers since they are overwhelmed by interviews with many research groups.
Informed consent and incentivization: data privacy is a prevalent topic today and even more challenging in the clinical context.
A lot of healthcare innovation is happening in remote and low resourced areas, triggered by the challenges that people in these areas are facing. One example of such innovation is telemedicine, which is today used in urban areas as well. The trend is going in that direction, the so-called global health 4.0, increasingly the present and certainly the future, is research and other activities led by people from low- and middle-income countries. Therefore, it is becoming even more important to develop solutions that are equal and accessible to the whole world.
Shaun van Oorde-Grainger, from Philips Experience, also shared with us how they are helping to shape the future of radiology, by applying future thinking. They create scenarios of what is probable for the user, but also what is plausible and what might be possible. Later, these scenarios are visualized in a way that professionals around the world can give real feedback to help create a better and global future of radiology.
Last but not least, Alessandro Masserdoti shares with us a wonderful solution to help women with Rett syndrome to communicate with their relatives and others. The solution is based on a revolutionary eye-tracking-technology, that is open source as well. Therefore, accessible and available for the whole world to constantly improve this solution.
4. Validation is not evidence
Designing and co-working in the clinical context come with different challenges, but a crucial one is to understand the difference between validation and evidence. Validation determines if you are building the right solution, while evidence determines if you are building the solution right.
Dr. Charlotte Poot strongly believes that both validation and evidence should come hand in hand to be able to make meaningful solutions in future healthcare. She continues by saying that there are many cases where the solution is excellent, but once put in the actual setting, it is not adopted by the users, or it requires too much maintenance. Therefore when designing in the healthcare context is necessary to trust the process of design to come up with creative ideas and user understanding, but it is also required to present evidence on the other parts of the ecosystem to create solutions that people will able to access, adopt and maintain.
To summarize, this conference is unique in its kind; not many conferences put together design within the context of healthcare. Therefore, I look forward to it to grow and to see more speakers from unexpected parts of the world sharing their experiences in this sector. Overall, UXD Healthcare conference exposed the need for collaboration between designers and clinicians, but also the need to share experiences on a global level. I was glad to see how those speakers with a design background realise that they should not take the lead in any healthcare project, but let clinicians lead a user-centered-transformation that involves designers to “bridge the gap between complexity and vulnerability” (an EGGS' motto!)
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